Stockholm: Human rights and environmental activists from Nepal, Nigeria, Brazil and Israel were named the winners Thursday of this year`s Right Livelihood Award, also known as the "alternative Nobel”.
They are Nigeria`s Nnimmo Bassey, chairman of Friends of the Earth International, Austrian-Brazilian Bishop Erwin Kraeutler, Shrikrishna Upadhyay for his fight against poverty in Nepal and Physicians for Human Rights Israel.
The recipients will split the EUR 200,000 (USD 270,000) cash award founded by Swedish-German philanthropist Jakob von Uexkull in 1980 to recognise work he felt was being ignored by the Nobel Prizes.
Bassey, 42, who is also director of Environmental Rights Action in Nigeria, was honoured for standing up "against the practices of multinational corporations in his country and the environmental devastation they leave behind”.
The citation praised Bassey for helping reveal the "ecological and human horrors of oil production and for his inspired work to strengthen the environmental movement in Nigeria and globally."
It also recognised Catholic Bishop Erwin Kraeutler, 71, for his "lifetime of work for the human and environmental rights of indigenous peoples" in Brazil and for his "tireless efforts to save the Amazon forest from destruction”.
Kraeutler, who has dual Brazilian-Austrian citizenship, helped secure the inclusion of indigenous people`s rights in the Brazilian Constitution in the 1980`s, the prize committee said.
He has also played an important role in the protests against plans to build the world`s third-largest hydroelectric plant, Belo Monte on the Xingu River in Brazil, which activists say would devastate wildlife and the livelihoods of some 40,000 people.
The jury also honoured 65-year-old Shrikrishna Upadhyay for his persistent fight against poverty in Nepal, "even when threatened by political violence and instability”.
Upadhyay founded the organisation Support Activities for Poor Producers of Nepal, through which he has helped build hundreds of water systems, rural roads and schools in 12 districts in Nepal. He has also set up micro-credit systems to support local communities and helped plant trees and improve literacy.
Ole von Uexkull, executive director of the Right Livelihood Award Foundation, said Upadhyay had been on the shortlist for the award for many years and the magnitude and quantity of what he has been doing means he "really deserves to be recognised”.
The organisation Physicians for Human Rights Israel was included among the winners for its "indomitable spirit in working for the right to health for all people in Israel and Palestine”.
The PHRIA, which was founded in 1988, uses mobile clinics to bring health services to Israelis and Palestinians.
Ole Von Uexkull said he sees The Right Livelihood Award as a complement to the Nobel Prizes, which are awarded for achievements in science, peace, literature and economics.
"There are great people who receive Nobel Prizes. All we say is that there are people around the world who ... deserve to be highlighted at least as much as people who receive Nobel Prizes," he said.
The awards will be presented to the four recipients in a ceremony at the Swedish Parliament on December 06, four days before the Nobel Prizes are handed out.